Ramblings: Singing the Bye Week Blues (Jan 9)

steve laidlaw



The NHL Bye Weeks are here to ruin your season. 13 teams play only one game this week and over half the league with two or fewer. Next week isn’t much better.

Worse, the week after is All-Star Weekend so we’ve got three very thin weeks in a row. Basically, January is a write-off. I don’t know too many providers who offered the option, but the move was to combine January 8-21 into one matchup week, and then combining January 21-February 4 into another would have been the way to go. Head-to-head has some element of randomness, but the bye week and All-Star effects are perhaps a little much.

Of course, if you aren’t in a head-to-head league the impact is muddle, but what of all the extra back-to-backs shoehorning an extra five to seven days in the middle of the schedule forced? I don’t know that we can measure the exact impact of these factors since every team is facing them, but they clearly exist.

In a season where every team plays 82 games across 26 weeks each team should play just under three games a week. Subtract a week and we get these back-to-backs. Add in breaks for holidays, All-Star Weekend and other issues with scheduling like arena availability and you get a schedule riddled with back-to-backs.

I also don’t know that these long breaks actually doing anything for the athletes. They still have to play the 82-game schedule. Playing it in a more compressed fashion means playing more games in a compromised state, not less. A week isn’t enough time to completely shake off an injury, even a mild one.

Worse, is the “use it or lose it” effect. A week away from skating hard is going to reduce the maximal output of these athletes. Asking them to go zero to 60 is impossible. After All-Star weekend, players will have had three breaks of at least three days in a month’s span. I’d never give them any breaks longer than two days. All that stopping and starting? Sounds like they are asking for injuries.

Consider the plight of the New York Rangers who go from a back-to-back, to six days off, to another back-to-back. Someone is pulling a groin.

I didn’t even mention how insane the schedule has been for the Senators who have been in a tailspin since heading over to Sweden. The Avalanche’s fate hasn’t been nearly as miserable, so the anecdotal evidence is spotty, but you cannot tell me that this is something you want for your favourite team. And of course, the nincompoops in the Oilers front office are begging to be next in line.

Be rid of the bye week and any other events forcing teams to take extended breaks that can only be made up by packing the rest of their schedule even tighter.


With only one game on the schedule we get William Nylander highlights. Watch him cross-up Josh Anderson:


And this snipe: